The ‘Famous Dal Cart’ Isn’t Yet Famous, But May One Day Be

Photo: Daniel Maurer

If a fro-yo truck is just way too trendy for you, here’s a far less ostentatious entrant into the mobile-food scene: The “Famous Dal Cart” isn’t famous at all — in fact, it’s only a couple of days old. But it’s bound to achieve some measure of notoriety with cabbies and East Village fratties alike. Tanvir Elahi, a native of Calcutta who spent fifteen years working as a cab driver before he saved up some money and won a mobile-vending license in the lottery, is now selling dal, chicken tikka masala with rice, and eventually biryani and garlic pickles for $2.99 a plate. We found him at Second Avenue and East 10th Street on Saturday night, and he intends to be there, with the help of his daughter and an assistant (shown with him in the photo), from 4 p.m. till midnight every day.

Elahi tells us he and his Pakistani wife traveled back to India and Pakistan to learn from chefs who prepare traditional wedding food, and he’s using his new knowledge to stock giant aluminum “daigs” (or caldrons) with food that he prepares on site over the course of an hour (much of his time is spent grinding masala). Elahi is quite a charmer (Saturday found him offering free tastes to anyone who showed interest), so don’t hesitate to ask him what goes into his lentil stew, though he’s likely to leave it at “a lot of love.”